Meeker fire’s smoke colors Garfield skies
A fire burning for the benefit of nature put on a show Wednesday in western Garfield County, as smoke filtered the sun so that clouds were red at dusk.Smoke from the 300-acre fire near Meeker hovered north of Rifle Wednesday evening.”The smoke was pretty obvious. … You could just see it laying back there,” said Lee Rickard, fire management officer for the Upper Colorado Interagency Fire Management Center in Rifle.The smoke increased after the fire became fairly active Wednesday, said Punky Moore, the representative at the scene.Lightning started the fire July 7. It is burning about 10 miles west of Meeker in the Black Mountain wilderness study area, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM allows fires to burn and play an ecological role there, improving vegetation for wildlife and livestock.Moore said a fire management team of 31 people, including a helicopter crew, is monitoring the fire.”Things are going according to plan,” she said. She said the fire appeared to be picking up again Thursday.Meanwhile, things are mostly quiet on the wildfire front locally.”Something will happen, though,” Rickard said.The Rifle fire center dealt with numerous lightning-caused fires in recent weeks. There has been little storm activity lately, however. That means little lightning – but also high temperatures, no rain and increasingly dry and flammable vegetation.Early Thursday evening, Glenwood fire crews responded to a report of a fire caused by a lightning strike on Lookout Mountain, after a brief electrical storm that yielded little rain.
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